American Cancer Society in its 2017 data release has estimated 87,110 new melanomas to be diagnosed this very year. The bad news doesn’t stop here as 9,730 cases among these are expected to lose their battle to the death.
These devastating figures are a call to brush up the knowledge and discover all about this disease. With this concern, here we go…
What Is Melanoma?
The term ‘Melanoma’ refers to ‘black tumor’ which is a skin cancer that takes place in cells known as melanocytes. These cells are involved in producing the dark and protective pigment called melanin, which is known to give skin its color.
Melanoma is considered the fatal type of skin cancer. Involvement of melanocytes is the reason most melanomas are either black or brown in color. However, it can be pink, red, skin-colored or purple if the cancerous cells stop producing pigment.
The disease can affect any part of the body. Studies show that men are more prone to it on the trunk; while women are likely to have it on arms and legs.
Facts To Know
- Melanoma is the second most common cancer in people below 50 years
- Sun is not the only responsible factor
- The presence of more than 100 moles is risky
- It is possible in the eye, the lining of digestive tract or genitals
- Early treatment is life-saving
Unveiling The Risk Factors
Individuals with below-given traits are at higher risk of developing melanoma:
- Light eyes
- Fair skin
- Blonde or red hair
- The family history of skin cancer
- History of sunburn or UV exposure
- Personal history of skin cancer
- More than 50 moles
Signs To Look Out For
One of the most usual signs of skin cancer is the change in the skin like a new growth or a sore that doesn’t go away. Some of the skin cancers occur as scaly patches raised bumps, moles, and open sores. Anytime unusual bumps, rashes or changes in the skin or existing moles are noticed, it is important to seek medical attention.
American Academy of Dermatology has given an acronym “ABCDE” which is extremely helpful for early melanoma detection. ABCDE stands for:
Asymmetry: Shape of one-half of the mole is different from the other half.
Border: Border or edges of the mole are notched, ragged or blurred.
Color: Color of the mole is blotchy and uneven, with shades of gray, brown, white, black and red.
Diameter: Size of the mole is large than the tip of a pencil eraser.
Evolving: Size, color or shape of the mole changes.
Here it is important to understand that some melanomas do not fit for the ABCDE rule. For this reason, it is useful to keep an eye on changes in any area of skin or in any mole.
Want to know another tool that is used to recognize this life-threatening disorder? Well, it is the “ugly duckling” sign. This is based on the observation that most of the moles look similar to each other. It is based on the observation that most moles are similar-looking to each other. The mole that looks different from the surrounding ones is termed the ‘ugly duckling’.
The Treatment Options
Treatment ranges from minimal surgery to extensive surgery, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation, and chemotherapy, depending on how early melanoma is caught. In other words, it is the stage at which the disease is diagnosed that determines the suitable treatment.
Stage 0: Cancer is located in the outer layer of the skin and can be treated with surgery.
Stage I and Stage II: The Cancerous area is removed surgically. In such cases, biopsy of surrounding lymph nodes is recommended sometimes.
Stage III: Cancerous skin is removed along with the affected lymph nodes. Treatment may include chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation or immunotherapy.
Stage IV: Curing cancer at this stage is very hard. Surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation and targeted therapy may all be the part of the treatment.
Reduce The Risk
- Wear Sunscreen: You may find it absurd but applying sunscreen can actually help. Add broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 in your daily routine.
- Wear Protective Clothing: Wear sun-protective clothing like hat, sunglasses and full-sleeves outfits.
- Avoid Peak Rays: Avoid going out during the mid-day sun, as sun rays are intense during that time.
- Avoid Tanning Beds: Indoor tanning increases the possibility of melanoma by up to 75%. This disease is counted among the top three cancers diagnosed in young adults of age group 25-29. Scientists have concluded this trend to the use of tanning beds among youngsters.
- Protect Children: It may shock you but it takes only one bad sunburn in children to double the possibility of developing melanoma later in life.
With this, you have got a clear picture about melanoma and its related aspects. Keep everything in mind and let your body maintain the safe distance from this monster.